When it was revealed earlier this month that “Sex Education” star Ncuti Gatwa would be taking on the role of the new Doctor Who, the whole world was taken by surprise – including Gatwa’s “Barbie” castmates.
Simu Liu, who is co-starring alongside Gatwa and Margot Robbie in the upcoming doll movie, revealed Gatwa kept his “Doctor Who” casting a secret for months, with the “Barbie” stars only learning of the news at the same time as the rest of the world.
“[He] didn’t tell anyone a thing,” Liu said during a talk with “The Matrix Resurrections” star Jessica Henwick in London on Thursday evening as part of his book tour for his memoir “We Were Dreamers.” “And then all of a sudden over the weekend he was announced. We came to work on Monday we were like ‘Dude, how long have you been holding this in for?’ And he’s like, ‘Two months.’”
“I would have combusted,” Liu laughed, adding that the “Doctor Who” revelation had resulted in Gatwa having to hire protection. “He had to get security in and around not only his place of residence, but the places of residence of his entire family.”
The “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” star also admitted to the 700-strong audience (which included “The Wheel” host Michael Mcintyre and “Slow Horses” star Christopher Chung) that when he found out he’d scored the part of Shang-Chi in 2019 he hadn’t been able to keep the news secret for more than a few minutes.
“I’m not a great secrets guy, when it comes to this stuff,” Liu recalled of the moment Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige called him to tell him he’d won the role. “[Kevin] was like, ‘We’re gonna fly you to Comic Con in San Diego in four days, just keep your mouth shut until then. We want to be able to surprise the whole world when we announce you at Comic Con, like, don’t ruin the moment.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, sure.’”
“He was like, ‘No seriously, don’t tell your parents, don’t tell your friends. Don’t tell anyone.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah.’ And then I immediately called my best friend,” Liu laughed. “It’s too big of news to keep with you.”
He did concede, however, that other stars in the Marvel Cinematic Universe seemed to be more discreet when it came to their jobs. “The more contemporaries that I meet, the more I realised, ‘Oh, like some of these people are really good at keeping secrets,’ Liu said, before adding: ‘Maybe not Tom Holland. Shout-out to Tom Holland – he’s maybe not the best [at keeping secrets]. But there are definitely stories out there of people who kept things a secret for [ages].”
In response to an audience question about whether Liu suffers from imposter syndrome, the actor replied: “Oh my God, are you kidding me? I was at the Oscars – I made one movie. I made one movie and I was shaking hands with Bradley Cooper. I put Will Smith. But like, before [the slap] – so it’s still a really incredibly moment for me.”
“And I was on stage and I was presenting with Tiffany Haddish and the whole time, I was just like, What am I doing here? So yes, I do. I feel impostor syndrome on a crazy crazy level.”
“Everything in my life is happening at a speed that I am entirely unprepared to process,” said Liu, who earlier this week was included in Time magazine’s 100 list of the most influential people of 2022 (Liu will also host a broadcast of the gala on ABC). “I found myself at the Met Gala. I’m hosting the Time 100 Gala next week. The Time 100 Most Influential People in the world, like are you kidding me? I’m not even in the 100 most influential Marvel characters. There’s 65 Avengers ahead of me, 30 X men and, you know, you -” Liu, said, addressing Henwick, who played Colleen Wing in Marvel series “Iron Fist.”
“I try to not make it about me as much as I can,” Liu continued. “Especially learning that I was on the Time list. I was like, ‘Okay, this moment isn’t about you. It’s about everything that you stand for, which is the the importance of representation, the importance of a community to be seen,’ like that’s what it is. And I’m just a conduit – I’m a very temporary instrument – through which this messaging is being told. For that reason, I’m going to accept it, I’m going to stand tall, and I’m going to represent it in the best way that I can.”